George F. Campbell
The neophyte shipmodeller`s jackstay
Gunportsin warships were built into the side of the ship. The sheerline of the gunports was parallel to the deckline so that each gun barrel was the same relative height to each porthole. Fig. 12.
The vertical edges of the ports were nearly always truly plumb to timbers or ribs which were square to the waterline. There were occasional variations when the timbers were not square to the waterlines but to the keel. This can be ignored unless one has definite evidence. On the solid hulls the gunports can be cut out with a small chisel and cleaned up if necessary with a small square file.
First lay out on the hull the upper line on which the ports lie. Fig. 12. Consulting the plan, mark off on this line the upper left hand corner of each gunport. Carefully draw a vertical line down from this point, which will be the left frame of the port, Fig. 13A.
With a chisel no wider than the port's edge punch in the four edges and carefully chip out the square centre, Fig. 13B. Avoid prying as you will thus round off the edges.
An alternative method is to mark the centre of each gunport, drill a hole fitting within the square siz;e of the port and then square the hole with a small chisel or a square rectangular file, if in the waist bulwarks Fig. 13C.
A few variations in the design of gunport lids are shown. Usually there was a stop to prevent the lid jamming. The lid had slightly tapered sides. Lids near the waterline were closed and caulked watertight internally in heavy weather, and during such times in large vessels a small hinged shutter or plug on the lid itself was opened for ventilation.
Small vessels such as brigs, corvettes and sloops often had rowports between the gunports for long oar sweeps when becalmed. On the thick wales which were partly cut by the ports, the lids were made with the wale thickness to match up and present an even appearance when closed, but this was not done with mouldings. Often the gunports on the quarter deck had no port lids as they were so high above the waterline. Cutters and schooners also frequently omitted the lids from the bulwark gunports.